FY 2012 Budget Resolution and Subsequent Appropriations

March 15, 2011 

The Honorable Kent Conrad
Chairman, Budget Committee
U. S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Jeff Sessions
Ranking Member, Budget Committee
U. S. Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510


The Honorable Paul Ryan
Chairman, Budget Committee
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Chris Van Hollen
Ranking Member, Budget Committee
U. S. House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515


RE: FY 2012 Budget Resolution and Subsequent Appropriations 

Dear Chairman Conrad, Senator Sessions, Chairman Ryan and Representative Van Hollen:

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) offers the following principles for your consideration in the development and adoption of a FY 2012 budget resolution and subsequent appropriations. 

Over the past three fiscal years (FY 2009- FY 2011), state legislators have filled cumulative state budget gaps totaling $417 billion. This has been accomplished through spending reductions, revenue increases, federal assistance and the consolidation and restructuring of programs. These actions will continue for FY 2012 and FY 2013 for which NCSL’s preliminary budget gap numbers total an additional $150 billion. Funding basic priorities such as education, public health, public safety, transportation and human services, which together typically consume 90 percent or more of most state budgets, will likely mean making tough decisions among these priorities.  

NCSL recognizes the urgency for the federal government to reduce its annual deficits and curb growth in the national debt. It is our expectation that funding for state-federal discretionary programs will be reduced. State legislators have no expectations for, nor is NCSL seeking, any type of emergency federal fiscal assistance. However, in crafting the congressional budget resolution for FY 2012 and subsequent appropriations measures, we respectfully request that you be guided by the following principles: 

(1) Federal deficit reduction should not be accomplished simply by expanding unfunded and under-funded federal mandates or shifting costs to states. Our research shows that at least 5-10 percent of state general fund annual or biennial budgets reflect funding voids created by unfunded and under-funded federal mandates. 

(2) Congress must work collaboratively with state legislators to ensure that any efforts to reduce funds to state federal programs that serve our most vulnerable populations, supplement state efforts to provide quality education, create jobs and invest in infrastructure, are matched with a reduction of both statutory and regulatory federal requirements and mandates on states. States should be given greater program and administrative flexibility to operate programs and deliver services. 

(3) Maintenance of effort provisions should be curtailed or minimized. They impose disproportionate pressures on state budget and appropriations processes by restricting our legislative options. 

(4) All federal discretionary, mandatory, entitlement and tax-related programs should be scrutinized for savings and be on the table. To do otherwise is to heighten the likelihood that deficit reduction efforts will disproportionately fall on state and local governments. 

(5) Congress should pass the Main Street Fairness Act, to be sponsored by Senators Durbin and Enzi. This legislation will allow states to collect sales taxes legally imposed on their residents but not collected by out of state sellers. Passage of the Main Street Fairness Act would create a level and fair playing field among all sellers, ensure the survival of America’s main streets and provide states $23 billion without any offsets or funds from the U.S. Treasury. 

Furthermore, the budget resolution should discourage any federal funding for or action regarding state bankruptcy protection, debt obligation assistance or state and local government pension and post-employment benefit program modification. NCSL believes the federal government’s involvement in any of these issues could prove harmful to our nation’s financial markets and lead to increases in our capital project costs. 

We fully respect the fiscal challenges confronting Congress as you complete the FY 2011 appropriations process, draft a FY 2012 budget resolution and prepare to address longer-term fiscal and economic challenges. We offer to work collaboratively with you in these efforts.


Senator Richard T. Moore
Massachusetts Senate
President, NCSL

Senator Stephen R. Morris
President of the Senate, Kansas
President-Elect, NCSL

Representative Terie Norelli
Minority Leader, House of Representatives
New Hampshire
Vice President, NCSL

Senator Don Balfour
Georgia Senate
Immediate Past President, NCSL


CC: Members of the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives